In October 2011, a group of Sewickley area leaders identified a resource missing from communities northwest of Pittsburgh: an arthouse film theater. The group studied cinematic art trends developing throughout the country and concluded that the best approach would be to create a nonprofit theater that could propel change for the better within the region.
The group named its effort “Village Theater Company,” formed an active board, established itself as a nonprofit organization and initiated conversations with key organizations such as Robert Morris University, Sewickley Valley YMCA, Laughlin Memorial Library in Ambridge, and Laughlin Children’s Center in Sewickley, which serves children and families from over 30 school districts.
Sewickley Borough demonstrated its belief in the initiative by offering an attractive land-lease deal, reducing the total funds needed for construction. The 29-year lease is renewable with the option to purchase the property in the heart of Sewickley’s business district.
To establish that local residents would support this effort, the group focused on fundraising within the community. Once individual commitments passed $1M in early 2015, fundraising expanded to include corporate sponsorship and foundation interest.
Early in 2016, Thomas and Alba Tull sponsored the naming rights for the building, which became The Tull Family Theater. Since then, Esmark and the Bouchard Family have shown their support by sponsoring the naming rights for the flexible community room, which will serve as a space for live, small-scale performances, educational outreach and special events. Huntington Bank has joined the effort with sponsorship of a screening room and will extend further resources for programming and outreach.
MISSION: The Tull Family Theater is a film-based arts organization created to strengthen cultural, educational and entertainment experiences in the region northwest of Pittsburgh.
The Tull Family Theater provides an additional cultural option to communities northwest of Pittsburgh: cinematic arts programming.
With few offerings of this sort otherwise, the immediate communities don’t even benefit from a regular movie theater. Nearby underserved communities feel this cultural void more strongly, as limited public transportation routes and no financial assistance make it very challenging to attend the multiplexes. Arthouse films, typically available only in metro areas, will be accessible to communities on the edges of Allegheny County and in Beaver, Butler and Washington counties.
Strategically located in Sewickley, the theater will present quality programming that will appeal to children, teens, families and seniors as well as cinematic connoisseurs. The theater plans to leverage the benefit of the arts through cross-promotion and collaboration with other nonprofits, schools and universities.